Originally Posted by lochaber
If you aren't set on using poly, you could try shellac. It's alcohol based, so it dries quickly with very little fumes.
I'm using it right now to finish my 40B stand, and I'm building it in a studio apartment.
The Shellac seems to be fairly easy to use, and somewhat forgiving. And from what I've read, it should be easy to repair any scratches/issues later on.
Shellac (poop from the lac bug mixed with denatured alcohol and is safe enough to be used as a coating on medicines) is prone to water stains. Shellac is great to use as a barrier between different types of finishes. You could use water based poly over an oil stain. Use shellac over a water based stain to keep a waterbased poly from lifting the water based stain/dye. It's a neutral sealer. WB is low odor. I'm using miniwax (I hate minwax products) gunstock oil base and that stuff is odoriferous. Have to stain outside for sure even then it still smells up the garage until I get WB poly over it.